These days it was all about multi-tasking.
Grinding down on the hit man’s throat with a red stiletto, Roisin grabbed the phone and hit the green button.
“Is this important?” She couldn’t be doing with time wasters.
“Roisin? It’s Geoff.”
The ex. “What’s this about, Geoff?”
“I want to see the kid.”
All of a sudden he cared. She took a deep breath, the better to appreciate the immensity of his hypocrisy. “Gee, Geoff. I’m busy, and you’re three years late-”
“She’s my kid-”
Roisin glanced at her watch. “I have to pick her up. Call me next year, yeah?”
“Where is she?”
The room was dark, save for three shafts of light that stabbed past the curtains. Roisin glanced down at the dead man, and wondered where his friend was. “She’s at ballet.”
“Yeah? She any good?”
She sighed. “It takes years to figure that out. It’s an art.”
“Oh.” The phone crackled with his attempt to absorb the idea of a physical art.
Roisin heard a floorboard creak and drew the gun she hadn’t had time for before.
“Does she ever talk about me?”
Roisin winced. She wanted to say no, but it wasn’t true. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know, you tell me.”
“You walked out. Every time she misses daddy, I have to remind her of that.”
“You coulda made something up.”
Oh. The asshole. “Geoff-” Just then the door flew open, a black figure in the black doorway froze. His surprise was her only edge, so she kicked her leg at him, and her shoe went flying at his face. He flinched and ducked, and in the second it took him to adjust himself, she had the gun aimed. The silencer mutedly sung him to his sleep. Three shots, all to the face. She walked over to him and looked down. If she pulled the balaclava back, some guy would be staring blankly up at her, some mother’s son.
“Roisin? You there?”
“Yeah.” She didn’t like the distance in her voice. It told her the kills were beginning to weigh.
She studied the room. Behind the walnut desk was another body, her target. Some guy in a suit some other guy had wanted tailored for a coffin. All it had taken to get her close enough was a tight black dress and blood red shoes. She realised she couldn’t even remember his face, and paused. The first time she’d felt nauseous, then at some point contempt took over. She hadn’t even been conscious of the switch. All she felt now was tired, and she made sure she noticed it.
Killing was no life.
“Roisin? I’m sorry, okay? I just wanted to talk.”
She shut her eyes. Shut it all out. Then she opened them and looked around. She hadn’t stepped through the blood, hadn’t touched anything. It looked clean. She walked out the door and crept quietly into the hall, wondering if there were any more of them out there. “This isn’t a great time.”
“It never is.”
She hurried out and went to the staircase, peering over the edge. The house was old, full of dark corners and crooked shadows.
“Can I meet her?”
She counted to ten. “I don’t think that’d work, Geoff.”
“Why not? Kid deserves a day with her dad, y’know.”
“Do you need a kidney or something?”
He swore, and she pulled the phone away from her ear.
“Come on.” There was a note of whining in his voice now. “It’s been over three years. I’ve changed. We could all do with meeting up, seeing each other.”
“We’re not a family,” she hissed. The house was entirely still, but something didn’t feel right. She’d got to the contract before anyone else, the job was done. So why this feeling, like the shadows were whispering?
“Don’t be that way, hon.”
Hon? Was he for real?
There was a faint light at the end of the hall. The dying tip of a cigarette dismissed from a twitching killer’s hand.
Her gun was losing bullets before the tip hit the ground. Bullets punched the wall by her head and she hit the floor before rolling into an empty room. Her heart was pounding.
To her surprise, the phone was still in her hand. She put it to her ear and wondered if he’d heard the shots. “What?”
“Why ballet? Thought you’d hate that stuff.”
“Sure, but there are worse gigs to fall into. She loves it, so I love it.” Love’s simple, she wanted to add.
She darted a look around the door. She couldn’t see anyone; maybe she’d nicked him?
“Come on, it’s almost Christmas.” Pleading had replaced the whining.
She smirked at that. Saint Nick was the patron Saint of Murderers; she could use him about now.
“I gotta go,” she said, trying to end the call.
“Don’t you dare! I just want to see my girl. I love her too, ya know”
“Sure you do.” Roisin kept low, and got out of the room. She dashed to the stairs and tried to find her target. There was no one that she could see, so she started skipping down the steps. It spiralled down like a serpent’s spine, she felt like she was playing snake’s and ladders with death, but then she always did.
The gunman was at the bottom. Slouched by the wall, a bloody palm pushing his guts back into place. A red bubble hissed on his lips and then popped.
“I’ve got to go-”
“I won’t hurt her like I hurt you. I couldn’t!”
The third gunman hadn’t had a balaclava like the other two. Rookie mistake. The kid looked like he’d only been twenty. If that.
Roisin stared at him. She sighed. “Can you sit through a ballet recital?”
“I guess. What’s that?”
She sighed again, and then skipped over the blood, and out through the open door beyond.
Barry Charman asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work